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Pinky finger injury!!! Any advice????

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by ingregulous, Dec 2, 2003.

  1. ingregulous


    Feb 6, 2003

    This is my first post to this site, and unfortunately it is about an injury I sustained about one month ago.

    I was playing a particularly long jazz gig when I started to feel a sharp pain in the first knuckle (closest to the tip) of my pinky finger. I was playing very hard to be heard and I wa not using an amp. I had to finish the gig, but then I took a week off to let it rest. I had had similiar glitches in other fingers which were always resolved with rest. Unfortunately, when I went back to playing, I was able to play for a little while without pain, but as soon as the blood really started to flow into the finger, the pain returned. It has been about amonth now and the pain still returns every time I play for any length of time. There is no pain, however without playing, i.e. I can wiggle the finger without pain at all.

    I AM FREAKED OUT BY THIS!!! I have been playing since I was ten years old (I'm 34 now), and even the idea of not being able to play anymore is unimaginable. My GP doctor told me that it may be arthritis, and that I should simply take an anti-inflammatory pain killer, but I find this advice unacceptable as a long term strategy. This simply means that, to keep playing, I must take drugs until the finger deteriorates to the point of not being able to play. In my uneducated opinion, arthritis doesn't seem like the correct diagnosis, as there is no pain without stress to the finger. It seems more like a pinched nerve or something along those lines. I have made an appointment with a hand surgeon to see what he will have to say.

    Has anyone had a similiar problem? Perhaps with a better outcome than that forecasted by my GP?? ANY words of comfort would really help me right now! Any help in finding a doctor that concentrates in music related injuries would also be GREATLY appreciated. I live in the Chicago area.

    Thanks for any help!!!!!

  2. ingregulous


    Feb 6, 2003
    I notice that some people have looked at this thread, yet nobody has responded. Nonetheless, and for, perhaps, someone's edification, I will now post the results of my visit to the hand surgeon. Maybe this will help someone else.

    As it turns out, the doctor thinks that I have an inflammation of the sinovial fluid surounding the joint in my pinky finger. The swelling starts as I begin to play hard, and then it is subject to a snowball effect; it swells, then gets caught between the bone, hurts, then swells all the more for being caught. This is not a degenerative condition, but rather one that can be stopped if the initial inflammation is stopped via anti-inflammatory drugs. The doctor seems to think that this condition will lessen as I use the anti-inflammatory drugs and the sinovial fluid shrinks back to normal over time. Pheeeeeew! The anti-inflammatory drugs, in my case, are not to mask a degenerative condition, but are to merely shrink the fluid to normal. THANK GOD!

    I guess my GP doctor was correct in the first place, and I could have saved a couple hundred dollars that I spent on the specialist. But, let me tell you, there is something that is very comforting about having a specialist examine, x-ray and specifically diagnose the condition. In my mind this is money well spent.

    I hope this thread might help someone who may develop this condition, or who has it. Now off to dose up.:D

  3. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    I'm sure this has come up in the past, but something else to consider is Glucosamine. For those who are not familiar, it (among other things) aids production of sinovial fluid, and helps preserve/protect cartilage -- essentially keeping joints properly "lubed and cushioned."

    Quiet, you.

    In all seriousness, it works. I have signs of arthritis already showing in my body (I'm 26) from former injuries and a coupla broken bones, and this stuff really helps. I feel less sore and have an increased and more comfortable range of motion. Of course, I suggest it as a part of an overall daily regimen, not just as a temporary fix to a sore joint. For those interested, it's available pretty much everywhere, and there's a ton of info on the web about it.

    Ang Greg - good luck. Hope you're feeling better soon.
  4. Glad to hear you're on the path to recovery.

    I've been very fortunate (knock wood) to have experienced no debilitating injuries as a result of double bass playing. I attribute this to good teachers who showed me the "right" way from the very beginning, and to a lifelong dearth of gigs :rolleyes:

    However, when I was playing electric bass on a regular basis, I was regularly experiencing mild pain in both hands, and well as excruciating pain in my left shoulder. This probably stemmed from a psychological attitude about the music I was playing (wedding schlock) combined with trying to apply the double bass technique I was trained in to the slab.
  5. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Here's another thing: work with medical professionals who have some understanding of what musicians deal with. Most any North American city of any size has some kind of sports medicine clinic these days. Many have clinics for performing artists. The professionals there are less likely to say to you "stop doing what you love to do". At least, if they do say it, it will have been with some regard to your very serious loss if you can't play any more.

    Even if the doc only sees torn knee cartilage all day long, s/he will likely have more time for your need to do weird things to your pinky finger.
  6. You know that stuff called "Emergen-C" that you can get at Trader Joe's and some grocery stores? You can get a version of it with Glucosamine that is specially formulated for joint problems like that. Will also give you a good dose of vitamins! Or you can just get it in a pill like landroid indicates...
  7. ingregulous


    Feb 6, 2003
    Regardiung glucosamine:

    the doctor I saw today said that the stuff could not hurt, but that he is skeptical about its effectiveness. He said that simply becasue glucosamine is a building block of joints and tendons etc., does not mean that throwing more of it at the area will help, as any growth is done in an adult. In my case, it certainly would not help the swelling go down. Having said that, I have been using glucosamine with msm for about two weeks now. I think most "scientific method", or traditionally trained doctors are skeptical about supplements in general, and since I have heard so much anecdotal evidence of glucosamine's effectiveness, I will continue to use it as a method of prevention rather than a cure for an exisiting injury.

    Regarding my technique:

    I was brought up on the electric bass, and was lucky to have had good teachers who stressed good technique. I have always been taught that the fingers are the strongest and least prone to injury when none of the knuckles are "broken" or fully released and flat. I strictly adhere to that on the electric, but I admit that keeping my pinky in a strcit "C" shape is not happening when I reach all the way over to the A and E strings on the upright. Since my injury, Most of the little time I have been able to play has been devoted to correcting this. I just don't know if my pinky is long enough to keep the curve when I extend it down to the A and E strings, and it certainly flattens out when I jump strings, say from the E string to the A. I will continue to try to make this correction to my technique.

    On the bright side, I have taken my anti-inflammatory drugs for the day, and I just finished a short practice session with no pain! I guess time will tell whether I will be able to play without drugs; the doctor seemed to think so.

    Thanks everyone for your warm comments and suggestions. I can't believe what a sense of depression crept over me this past month. I was slowly preparing for how I would have to quit my band and perhaps the bass, and it was casting a gloom over everything. I didn't even realize how much this was affecting me until I got the good news today and the gloom was lifted. I hate to be too dramatic, but the truth is the truth.

    By the way, I am unfamiliar with the syntax here. What is SLAB? I'm guessing that it means the electric bass, but what does it stand for specifically? Also, is calling the double bass an upright bass frowned upon by the members here?

    Thanks again

    Greg (soon to be supporting member)
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    "Slab", "Plank", "Toybass", "Porkchop", "Canoe Paddle", "Flyswatter" (etc.) are all just slang terms for electric bass used around these parts as part of the curmudgeonly affectation requirement which all members of the DB must sign a pledge to uphold (or risk internet ostracism). You are more than welcome to call a Double Bass an "upright" bass if you wish, but in doing so you paint a bullseye on your chest for CURMUDGEONLY AFFECTATION target practice. And some of these guys around here have pretty good aim, too.

    Welcome to TB. We can always use some fresh mea....er, blood around here. :)
  9. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Geez ya go a few weeks with nuttin, take a few days off and somebody goes and gets an injury.

    Glucosamine is the newest in a long line of arthritis preventatives. The thing the ads dont tell you is that arthritis isnt so much of a bone degenerations as it is a loss of joint space in an articulation.

    In other words, as we gro older, the space between two bones in an articulating joint(yes ther are some joints in the body that do not articulate)gradually diminishes, this causes them to rub together causing inflamation, pain, swelling and eventual bone loss.

    I dont think this is the case with you, sounds more like Tenosynovitis, an inflammation of the synovial lined tendon sheath and the tendon itself. Of course, given the limitations of no examination, this is only a guess.

    Treatment is as you are already doing.

  10. ingregulous


    Feb 6, 2003
    Yep, that is what the doctor said, and what I have inartfully tried to reproduce here! Never said I was a hand surgeon!:D

  11. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Nor am I, I just play one on TV.


  12. Although the doctor may be skeptical, i have a friend with terrible knee aches - he's been taking glucosamine and its completely gone. This isn't scientific but practical - if it works for you, it works. Doesn't hurt to try...
  13. winston


    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Ingregulous--when I was at music school (DePaul)in Chicago in the early '90's I had some left-hand problems due to poor technique and excess tension. I went to see Dr. Alice Brandfonbrener who is a performing arts specialist. She and her crew managed to quickly spot the technical flaws that were causing my problems. I was able to return to full playing ability with no drugs or surgery, just exercises and attention.

    I forget the hospital she worked at--it was north of the Loop, close to the park by the lake--Rush Presbyterian, perhaps? You should be able to find a listing under "Performing Arts Clinic" or Dr. Brandfonbrener's name. I definitely felt like my needs and concerns as a musician were understood better in this setting than by the GP's who had misdiagnosed me before. I hope this info helps, and best wishes for a full, speedy recovery!
  14. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    I am not arguing one way or the other, if it works, great. I prefer to go on a little more scientific data, prgressive Xrays and the like. I would be doing a disservice to my patients if I did not. Does it really work or placebo effect? I dont know, but until I am absolutely sure, I certainly wont recommend it.

  15. LeslieD


    Jul 25, 2006
    Does anyone have swollen finger joints from arthritis and can still play w/ no problems? I'm getting what's called "Bouchard's nodes" --bony outgrowths on the middle finger joints of my left hand. If you get this in the last joint of your fingers, it's Heberden's nodes. This apparently sets in when you're in your mid-40s and have a famiily history of arthritis. It's on both sides of my family, so I'm going to be playing bass as much as possible before I'm a complete cripple. Anyway, does anyone have these awful things, and how has it affected your bass playing? I can stand the pain, I just need to be able to bend my fingers when they are all mangled from this horrible stuff!